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A Brief Shining Moment - Chapter Fifteen
by calmacil_20 (calmacil_20)
at August 1st, 2007 (09:24 am)
tired

i'm : my hatch
i'm feeling : tired
i'm listening to: Dimension - Wolfmother

Title: A Brief Shining Moment
Author:  calmacil_20
Spoiler/Warnings: An AU story that for the most part ignores DH.
Summary:  A story that ehcoes through the ages is told again...A retelling of the Arthurian legends with our favourite Hogwarts students as the focus. Takes place after the seventh year at Hogwarts is over, and Harry and his friends thought that they finally had some respite. Harry and Hermione are together at last, and live with most of the Order members in small, secluded house, but there is a shadowy remnant of Voldemort's supporters - united under a new leader - who still want to plunge the world into darkness. 
Genre: Angst/Adventure/Romance
Chapter: Fifteen - Revelations
Chapter Summary: Everything that has been happening at Claer comes to a head as secrets are revealed and traps set in motion...
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: This is one of the major chapters, and I really hope that everyone enjoys this, as I wanted to get it just right. As always, my deepest love and thanks to herminia for everything she does for me. I hope you all enjoy, and feedback is much appreciated.

Here's the Prologue and Chatpers 1 - 14 for those who need to catch up!

Cross-posted to: 
delusionalfans, harmony_fiction, harryhermionehhr_danemma, blueflame_hhrand my own personal journal. 

As the sun slowly sunk behind the horizon and night fell, Hermione Granger began to feel like a weight had been lifted. After a day of torture, she knew what she wanted.

 

Ever since Draco had left her alone in the kitchen, trembling with the magnitude of what she had done, she had felt like she was going to be sick. This sensation wasn’t unfamiliar to her; she had vivid, horrible memories of feeling completely miserable and afraid during the war, when one could never be sure who was going to die next, or what awful turn of events would occur.

 

And here she was, having those same feelings all over again because of two men, and a mistake she had made.

 

She couldn’t even put into words exactly what it was that had happened yesterday. She knew in her heart that what she had done was not only extremely wrong, but was a total betrayal of Harry, the one person in the world she loved the most. All last night, she had tossed and turned in her bed, going over and over how she could have let Draco kiss her if she loved Harry so much. The rational side of her and this other, more emotional side, couldn’t be reconciled on the issue, no matter how much she tried, and by the time the dawn broke, her brain was utterly spent from all she had put it through.

 

She had stayed in her room until she was sure most everyone would have eaten their breakfasts, snuck down to the kitchen and grabbed something quickly, but not having much of an appetite, she ended up chucking most of it.

 

The rest of her day had been spent in misery. She didn’t leave her room, except briefly and didn’t seen Draco at all, for which she was extremely grateful. Harry, however, had been looking for her. Neville came knocking on her door, to see if she was there, but she told him she didn’t feel well, and just needed to rest in solitude.

 

Of course, knowing Harry, as soon as he learned that, he came bursting in the room, fussing over her, checking on how she felt and if there was anything he could do. He gently chided her for not telling him sooner that she didn’t feel well, but she assured him that it was nothing that a little rest wouldn’t fix. He finally agreed to let her be, and with a gentle kiss on her forehead, left her alone. As she turned over in bed, she wiped away the hot tears that sprung to her eyes.

 

She couldn’t understand why she had agreed to meet Draco tonight. She honestly couldn’t come up with a reason that made any sense. Everything in her told her to just stay in and not go, but she feared that if she did that, Draco would come to her, and the last thing she wanted was him in her room. He had assured her that all they would do was talk, but after his unexpected kiss, she seriously doubted she could trust him to keep his word.

 

For someone who had to make sense of everything, the fact that she couldn’t straighten this all out in her own mind was infuriating.

 

The thought that truly terrified her the most, however, was that Harry would find out. Once she informed Draco that there was going to be nothing else between them, she wouldn’t put it past him to tell Harry, out of revenge. As misunderstood as Draco thought himself, she knew that when he was scorned, there was nothing he wouldn’t do.

 

She was also very afraid of herself. She had quite the guilty conscience, and the idea of keeping something like this from Harry made her cringe. She didn’t want to lie to the man she loved, but there was no way of telling how he’d react. If the kiss had been all Draco, that might have been one thing, but she had to own up to the fact that she played a role too. She knew that it would break Harry, and she could hardly bear the idea of doing that to him, especially after all he’d been through. A part of her knew that she would have to tell him sometime, and she would accept the consequences, but she knew Harry loved her as much as she loved him, and she trusted his heart completely to forgive her in time. 

 

So, she had finally decided, what Draco did tonight mattered very little. The second she had pushed him away the day before, the second that she had realized just what it was she had done, it become as clear as day that whatever it was between them was nothing. Yes, there was a connection there, she wasn’t going to deny it, but connection or not, it didn’t warrant giving up Harry, which was all she had ever wanted. As she watched the sun sink, it felt like night was falling on whatever this whole debacle with Draco had been. It was time for a new day.

 

She would meet Draco at eight as promised, but she had to stop this, no matter what his reaction would be. She would just have to tell him she loved Harry, and that Draco had better stay away from her. She doubted he would take this well, but that didn’t matter. She knew who she wanted, and she was doing what she had to do, just as she had always done.

 

Harry was her everything. She had made a mistake, and wouldn’t deny that, and so she would not let this continue.

 

As the clock finally struck eight, she left her room and walked resolutely to Draco’s, feeling like this was all so close to being over.

 

***

 

Ron, Luna, Neville and Harry all sat in the same fire-lit room that they had brought Draco to after his manor had been destroyed, gazing over a mess of maps and papers Harry had spread out on the ground.

 

Harry was pouring over the plans he had written about stopping Bellatrix and her Death Eaters. He was visibly excited, laughing every now and then at what he thought was a particularly good idea or strategy.

 

Neville was paying close attention, Luna seemed to be listening as intently as was possible for someone who sat, staring off into space, but Ron only barely heard a word he said.

 

He was still white-hot with rage at what he had witnessed in the kitchen yesterday. Hermione kissing Malfoy! The idea was totally inconceivable, but he had seen it himself. He wasn’t certain what made him angrier; the fact that Hermione was betraying Harry, or that she had passed over him completely in favour of Malfoy, one of the people Ron hated most.

 

Even though Hermione was with Harry, Ron couldn’t escape this overwhelming feeling of personal betrayal, like she had done something to him as well. He reckoned it was residual feelings he had for her, and the fact that she was still able to hurt him, made him ache inside.

 

All he could think about now was revenge - against Hermione, but mostly Malfoy. He would finally see that arrogant twit get what was coming to him. The idea of what this revelation would do to Harry only briefly flicked across his mind, so all-consuming was his desire to get some retribution for what had been done. 

 

He checked his watch, which read eight o’ clock. He had decided to wait a few minutes before taking them to Malfoy’s room, because if they went at eight, all they would see was Hermione showing up there, which would be strange, to be sure, but nowhere near enough to achieve Ron’s aim. He had to wait a little, and then move.

 

He was broken out of his reverie by a familiar name.

 

“Where’s Hermione, Harry?” Luna asked dreamily. “Shouldn’t she be here for this?”

 

Harry grimaced. “I wish she was, Luna, but she’s not feeling well today, and I thought it better to let her rest. I’ll fill her in on this when she’s feeling better.”

 

She’s feeling sick, Ron thought with disgust. She’s lying right to his face, now.

 

“Oh, Harry, I forgot to mention,” he suddenly spoke up, trying his best to sound casual. “I ran into Malfoy earlier, and he mentioned that he might have some more information that could help us. I would’ve mentioned it sooner, but you were talking so much about your plans that I completely forgot it.”

 

“Really?” Harry said, standing up. “Excellent. I had a feeling he’d prove his worth, if only given a chance. Let’s go see him, and see what he knows.”

 

They all stood up and Ron took the lead, as they headed toward Malfoy’s room. Nobody said anything, but Ron felt this prickling on the back of his neck, and turned to find Luna staring at him with more intensity than he had seen in her eyes in some time. The look unsettled him quite a bit, and he tried to shrug it off.

 

They finally reached Malfoy’s room, and Ron went for the doorknob.

 

“Shouldn’t we knock?” Harry asked, but Ron acted as if he didn’t hear him and threw the door open.

 

Standing mere inches apart were Hermione and Malfoy, who whirled at the sound of the door opening. Malfoy’s startled gaze settled on the four people standing in the doorway, but Hermione saw only Harry.

 

***

 

Harry stared dumbly at the two of them, completely stunned.

 

What is Hermione doing in here? She’s sick; I saw her earlier, and she didn’t look well then, so why…

 

Certainly, she wouldn’t have lied to him to be alone with…Draco, would she?

 

Why would she lie to be alone with Draco? Surely not…

 

He couldn’t seem to complete any of his thoughts and continued to look at them both like he had never seen them before.

 

Hermione’s eyes were fixed on his, trying to garner anything of what he was feeling, but it must have been hard for her to see through the tears that were welling up in her eyes.

 

Harry was suddenly extremely aware of Ron, Luna and Dean standing behind him. He felt the heat of embarrassment at the situation, and he knew that he should do something, anything, but his mind couldn’t seem to wrap itself around what was happening.

 

Finally, in a voice so low he was surprised anyone heard it, he managed to get out, “What’s going on here?”

 

“Nothing, Harry, I promise!” Hermione said, the desperation in her voice clearly indicating that whatever it was, it was anything but nothing. “We were just talking.”

 

Harry searched her eyes for a moment, before he flicked his gaze over to Draco, who hadn’t even reacted yet. Draco merely stared back at him, but he could’ve sworn he saw a flicker of regret.

 

“Talking?” spoke up Ron, suddenly, from behind him. “Talking like in the kitchen yesterday?”

 

Hermione’s gasp was audible to everyone, and for a moment Harry swung his head back to look at Ron, who seemed surprised he had spoken. He turned back to look at the two, and now Hermione looked absolutely petrified, and Draco was looking pure daggers at Ron.

 

“What does that mean?” Harry asked quietly, though he knew the answer already. He knew it the minute he had walked into the room, and seen the look of sheer terror on Hermione’s face. It could only be one thing, given how Hermione was acting. He knew her better than anyone, and he knew what she was going to say, though some part of him prayed that he was wrong.

 

“Harry…I…yesterday, I was just so frustrated with being kept in the dark about what you’re doing, and being left out, and I ran into Draco, and we…just…” she faltered, chocking on a sob. “We kissed, Harry.”

 

Harry felt the world buckle underneath him, and for a moment he feared that he would just fall into the blackness that seemed to be surrounding him. Just hearing Hermione actually say the words made him feel like all the air had been sucked out of his lungs. He knew with a desperate certainty that this is what having one’s heart broken felt like.

 

When he didn’t say anything, Hermione kept talking, “It was an accident, Harry, I swear, it only happened once! It meant nothing! I was just upset!” She took a step toward him, and he fell back a pace. “We weren’t kissing when you came in, Harry, we weren’t! I came here to tell him nothing could ever happen between him and I, Harry! I promise you!”

 

Harry just held up his hand, and her voice fell into silence, although the sobs she was trying to fight were anything but silent. Everyone in the room fell into an oppressive quiet that seemed to bear down on him like an enormous weight. He wanted to fall to his knees, the weight of the pain was so heavy.

 

“I’m the one who kissed her, Potter,” Draco said, the first sound to come from him.

 

Harry looked at Hermione, who was pleading for him to believe it, and said in a hollow voice, “You think I don’t know her better than that, Malfoy? You can’t force her to do anything. Never could. If you two kissed, it’s because she wanted it, too.”

 

Hermione recoiled as if she’d been struck. Harry knew that what he just said was unfair, but it was the truth also. Seemed like now was the time for it.

 

The room fell quiet again as Harry tried to decide what to do. He knew that he should be doing something: yelling or throttling Malfoy, or anything – Merlin knows he’d learned how to express his frustration during his last years at Hogwarts, but this….this was out of his experience. The pain was so great, he felt he didn’t have the strength to do anything.

 

Suddenly footsteps could be heard pounding down the hallway, and Dean came skidding into the room.

 

“Harry, where have you been! I’ve been trying to find you! The Death Eaters are here! They’re breaking through our defenses as we speak. I don’t know how many there are, but they’re coming fast!”

 

“Death Eaters?” asked Ron, aloud. “How could they know where we are?”

 

“I’ve rounded up everyone to defend Claer, and Callum’s missing,” Dean said with a heaviness in his voice.

 

“I knew it!” Malfoy said, but Potter shot him a look, and he shut up.

 

“So, Harry, what should we do?”

 

Everyone looked at him, and for a moment Harry was lost. He had no doubt that him finding out about Hermione and Malfoy and the attack at the same time were no coincidence. He was betrayed.

 

“You’ve assembled everyone downstairs?” he asked Dean, who nodded quickly. “Very well. Ron, you, Luna and Neville go down there, take everyone out front and prepare to defend the house. Go to where our defenses end. We don’t want them attacking the house if we can, and the defenses end almost a quarter-mile away from here. Perhaps we can hold them.”

 

“What about these two?” Ron asked, indicating Hermione and Malfoy.

 

“I’ll handle this. Go. NOW!” and with that everyone disappeared from the room, leaving just the three of them.

 

Harry turned back to face the two, and for a moment stared at Hermione in silence. Here was the girl he had loved for years, though it took him much longer than it should have to realize it. The girl who had been there every step of the way and never given up on him, no matter what obstacle he faced. He had sworn a long time ago that the only thing he wanted for her was happiness. Did that mean he had to give up what he wanted, too?

 

“Harry, please,” Hermione pleaded.

 

He snapped out of his thoughts and looked at them. He didn’t bother to stop the lone tear that slipped down his cheek as he said, “Go. Out the back kitchen door.”

 

“What?!” Hermione said, incredulously.

 

“You heard them,” Harry answered in a voice so dead he barely recognized it as his own. “They’re attacking the front. We’ll draw them off, you two get as far away from here as you can.”

 

In a flash Hermione was directly in front of Harry, grabbing onto his hand. “Harry, please, I don’t want to go. I can help. Don’t make me leave.”

 

For the briefest of moments he tried to memorize what it felt like to feel his hand in hers before he gently pulled it away.

 

“This is how it is. Go,” he said and walked to the door. He stopped and turned to look back at Hermione, who seemed rooted to the ground, a look of total anguish on her face.

 

“I never thought I’d have to know what I would do without you,” he sighed. “I reckon ‘never’ is too long a word.”

 

 Harry walked out the door, closing it behind him, as Hermione, tears streaming down her cheeks, ran after him, only to have the door shut firmly in her face.

Comments

Posted by: sarah (herminia)
Posted at: August 1st, 2007 04:49 pm (UTC)
POTC - Will & Elizabeth // Goodbye

Just come out here and marry me already, because I miss you too much when you write too well--which is all the time.

Posted by: calmacil_20 (calmacil_20)
Posted at: August 1st, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC)
Pirates - Will/Elizabeth - Coming Home

Haha, I wish it was that simple.

I may be calling a bit later tonight, just so you know.

Posted by: sarah (herminia)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
H/Hr - Dan & Emma // Whispers

'Kay - what's going on?

Posted by: calmacil_20 (calmacil_20)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2007 02:00 am (UTC)
HP - Trio - Rather Die?

After my mum's little comment last night, I think I need to sit my parents down and talk to them about this.

Posted by: sarah (herminia)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2007 02:23 am (UTC)
POTC - Will & Elizabeth // Comfort

Oh, right :-/. Take as much time as you need, love.

Posted by: obiwankatie (obiwankatie)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2007 06:21 am (UTC)
MirrorMask

holy crap that was a dramatic and amazing chapter. You KNOW how I can't wait for more!

Posted by: rebirth7 (rebirth7)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2007 09:23 pm (UTC)

*dies* Amazing chap! The whole Hermione situation is so sad, but I love the way you've written it. Poor Harry! *mumbles curses at Draco* Well, I can't entirely hate Malfoy, but that doesn't mean I can't be mad at him for screwing things up between Harry and Hermione.

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